Martian Thoughts

Award ceremonies for the people


I don’t believe in film awards. I hardly believe in any awards, really.

I remember a colleague who used to despise the humble ceremony our company would host just before Christmas; she deplored it as a popularity contest. Of course, she wasn’t wrong. And yet, those are the awards that I have the fewest qualms with: everybody knows they’re a measure of how liked and respected certain people are among the company’s workforce. Admittedly, extroverted, charming people had a better chance of being voted for, but in the end, it tended to be those who helped out the most, those willing to swap shifts at the very last minute or listen to your troubles who would take the prize home.

When it comes to films, everything seems to be done and dusted from before the movie is out: the buzz starts before the release, it continues while in cinemas, it is amplified by its reviews and the inevitable box office success; the ceremony comes, and, surprise, our marketing winner… wins again. Not many people believe the award determines or certifies the quality of the film, but many still pay attention. In the future, as our memory blurs and fades, the roll of honour will remain intact.

I can think of many ways in which such accolades could be meaningful. Perhaps the cinema ticket combined with ID proof could grant you a vote. Popular taste being what it is, a victory might not say much about the artistic quality of the film, but at least it would be the most popular. Simultaneously, a fair representation of regarded cinema critics from every participant country could be selected – secretly so they couldn’t be bought or otherwise influenced – to issue their verdicts. That would make for the critics award. And then we could have all the nominees vote for someone other than themselves.

I must be frank: I still probably wouldn’t pay much attention to such a ceremony. However, its meaning would be far clearer.